after the second one. I was almost three by then. That was the year of the clockwork train. I adored it. I wish I still had it. My mother gave it away without consulting me. She gave away a lot of other things too. I was told I did not need them any more.
There was the pram. That was supposed to be for dolls. I used it to carry building blocks and the cat.
There was the doll's house. It was nothing fancy but it was a crude replica of our own house, a fibro-asbestos "standard Education Department accommodation for teachers" house. My father had made it, along with the crude furniture that went inside it. By age four I had an imaginary family living inside it and had long conversations with them.
And, most important of all, there was my first tricycle. It was not new but my father had repainted it a bright, gleaming racing car red. My father had also adapted the pedals so that I could keep my feet on them. I could go anywhere and everywhere. I could go all the way up the lane next to the house to the farm and get the milk. (I would carry it home carefully in the tray on the back of the tricycle.)
I could go across the lane and along the path by the road, past the Methodist church and the kindergarten, over the little side road and reach the "Four Square" grocery store. I would then wait outside until someone realised I was there. There was always someone around to take me inside or come out and get me. I would hand over the shopping list and things would be put in the tray at the back. Money would exchange hands and I would pedal off again.
Occasionally I would even pedal off to the school. I was supposed to be too young to go to school of course. Going to school meant going past the grocery store, the butcher, the baker (where there were excellent currant buns to be had) and the hardware store with the fascinating display of saucepans, brooms, buckets, boxes of nails, rope, twine, sacks filled with unknown mysteries and the bicycle tyres hanging like limp hoops from the pole by the front door.
You went around the corner and up another lane. There was one small street to cross and then you had to pedal like mad past the cottage hospital (in case 'they' came to get you). That was the really scary part. After that there was another small street and you arrived at the redbrick building which was the school. I could 'park' by the front door - next to the school library books. (They lived in a bookshelf just inside the front door.) I would read for a while before somebody would tell me it was time to do the journey in reverse. I assume my parents knew where I was. I suspect my mother used the school as a baby sitter.
Nothing could equate to that first tricycle. It was Christmas every single day I used it.